Tagged in campus call center


The Savvy Bursar’s Back-to-School Checklist

September 20, 2017


We give incoming freshman a back-to-school list so they pick up the right office supplies that makes learning and studying easier. Shouldn’t the same be true for bursars? The first few weeks of a new semester always brings predictable and not-so-predictable challenges for the business office.

We’ve outlined some essential items that should be included on every bursar’s back-to-school checklist to ensure the semester is off to a great start and that their teams are being set up for ongoing success throughout the year.

  1. Set a team meeting

Set clear directions to avoid misunderstandings and prevent errors with an in-person group dialogue. Gather your staff and don’t be shy about inviting members from other departments your office works closely with, too. It’s a chance to get everyone on the same page together at once. Review pertinent changes, goals, and expectations. Think of questions your team may ask and prepare thoughtful responses to avoid on-the-spot explanations and subsequent confusion.

  1. Draft frequently asked questions

From understanding billing and repayment to navigating essential paperwork, the questions your officers receive run the gamut. Some may think drafting responses to basic questions like Why is there a computer fee? is an unnecessary means to turn employees robotic, but you’re actually making their work lives simpler.

Things change rapidly at the start of the academic year. Having one document that you update in real-time ensures your staff always has access to the most up-to-date information. Scripts also ensure consistency in the information relayed from caller to caller.

  1. Re-evaluate your technologies

If you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your student records, ticketing, accounting, or call routing systems in a while, then be sure to do so. While the start of the semester may not be a good time to discuss upgrades or new platforms, it is a busy time that lets you assess your technology needs to accommodate peak student and staff activity.

  1. Look for student pain points and drivers of delinquency

If there’s anything you can do at the start of the semester to prevent delinquency woes later on, you should do it. Look for bottlenecks in your services and commonly misunderstood topics. A little digging could reveal opportunities to build a self-serve portal, update your IVR, or improve student communications and deliverability to prevent some of these inquiries in the first place.

Because higher education is so cyclical, it’s easy to fall into the same habits and stick to your same work life ebb and flow.  However, recalibrating processes with your team can make the rest of your year run smoother. Plus, your changes can have far-reaching improvements in your employees’ success and your students’ satisfaction.



7 Surprising Statistics Your Student Contact Center Should Know

August 3, 2017


Colleges and universities can learn a lot from the private sector, especially when it comes to managing a student contact center. Though we don’t like to think of students as consumers, it is important to understand that they are consumers in every other part of their life. To them, a call center is a call center. They’re used to holding companies to a high standard of customer service, and they’ll put your contact center under the same scrutiny. Understanding these customer services statistics will give you a better idea of those expectations and what your school can do to meet them.

  1. Complaints are like fleas

If you have one, then you have 100. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, only one in every 26 unsatisfied customers makes a complaint. The other 25? They’re either walking away from the company, stewing in frustration, or complaining about their experience to their friends. None of these are good things. Make it easier for your students to provide feedback and rate your services with end of the semester surveys or even asking a simple, “Did I satisfy all your concerns today?” at the end of a call. It’ll give you a baseline for how satisfied your students currently are and their responses will shine light on where your contact center needs improvement.

  1. Knowledge matters

Frost & Sullivan found that 60% of all repeat calls are process or training driven, meaning the call center agents lack the knowledge, resources, and processes that make for efficient call handling. Similarly, a 2009 Genesys Global Survey reported that 78% of consumers reported that good customer service comes down to competent service reps. While this is an older statistic, the sentiment remains: customers want knowledge, experience, and efficiency.

Whoever is answering your phones—department staff, outsourcers, or student representatives—needs to be well-trained and have easy-to-access resources to answer calls quickly and with accuracy. Investing in more training and establishing frequently asked question scripts may take a little bit of work and time up front, but they’ll pay off in the long run.

  1. Don’t assume

Brad Tuttle, reporting for Time, learned that 80% of surveyed companies say they deliver “superior” service, yet only 8% of consumers think these same companies deliver “superior” service. Never go just on feeling or gut instincts. These companies assumed they were doing a stellar job and, given that 89% of consumers begin doing business with a competitor following poor customer experience, they likely lost a lot or repeat business. Yearly or semester-end surveys or even post-call surveys are a great way to get in-depth feedback directly from your callers.

  1. Bad customer service experiences go viral

Last fall, The Huffington Post reported that consumers tell an average of 6 people about good experiences, but tell 15 people about poor experiences. As contact centers become more common on campus, what current students say about your contact center, especially online, could play a role in a prospective student’s decision to attend. This is particularly true for first-generation students who rely on contact centers to help make sense of a complicated financial aid and enrollment processes.

  1. Self-serve demand is growing

In a 2015 survey, Aspect Software found that 73% of millennials want self-serve options to troubleshoot problems on their own.  This is great news for schools. Making a few short explanation videos, providing a portal to download and upload applications and forms, and listing FAQ’s on your website can help divert contact center traffic, especially if you do a good job of promoting the offerings via text, email, and social media to your students.

Use a customer service lens to assess your student contact center. By putting yourself in your students’ shoes, you’ll uncover many of ways to impress, delight, and surprise them.


Driving Student Success with Your School’s Contact Center

June 23, 2017


As companies continue to shift their contact centers towards a customer-centric model—anticipating needs and reducing friction points—so should schools with their students. Effective student communication is no longer just a servicing strategy, it’s a competitive advantage. When they get quick and friendly service at their favorite coffee spot or online bookstore, they come to expect the same from their college or university.

Moreover, students who receive clear, timely, and regular communications from their financial aid and business offices, are more likely to stay in school, not miss important deadlines like add drop or FASFA application, and repay their bills after graduation.

So how do you improve your institution’s customer service levels?

  1. Get Scripting

Increasing the efficiency of your contact center can be as simple as putting together some call maps and FAQ scripts. You want to make sure you’re giving accurate, complete, and consistent information to all of your callers. Scripting your responses to FAQ’s and reviewing them with your team helps keep everyone on the same page and can reduce repeat callers seeking fuller explanations.

  1. Design Processes to Recognize Student Preferences

Today’s student is more diverse and mobile than ever, and that’s influenced the way each person likes to be contacted. A 2015 survey of college-bound high school students found that 60 percent of seniors and 55 percent of juniors were more likely to consider colleges and universities that use digital strategies for communication. Adding SMS/text, chat, email, and social media to your communications repertoire will help you reach more of your students more effectively and immediately. They also tend to be less expensive overall. No paper, no ink, no stamps.

  1. Expand You Calling Features

Nobody likes to wait in line. It makes the caller feel unappreciated and only increases their frustration and sense of urgency. By including options like call back, virtual hold, or self-serve IVR, you can make waiting feel like less of hassle and show the student that you are trying to be respectful and considerate of their time.

Bonus Tip: Make hold times informative and useful by including announcements for upcoming deadlines and offers. But just remember to update the information as it expires.

  1. Reevaluate for Improvements Regularly

Frequent reassessment allows you to refresh your technologies to keep up with demand and usage, as well as your processes and staffing. Start by looking at your student demographics and get a wellness check on your accounts receivables. Knowing if you have more non-English speaking students or a growing outstanding library charges portfolio will help you make the thoughtful changes where necessary to continue to support your entire student body more effectively.

  1. Consider Outsourcing

For schools that can’t afford to expand their internal resources, outsourcing your contact center—in part or in whole—is a cost-effective option. By using a reputable outsourcing partner that understands the higher education industry and the long list of compliance rules and regulations, your school gets the benefits of a bigger team without incurring all the overhead costs associated.